My largest-ever copyediting project was due on Wednesday. So I spent the first part of the week in a daze, sitting at the computer too long and sleeping too little. No matter how well I plan ahead or how prepared I feel to finish a project on time, those last two days or so are always a booger.
I’ve had a little extra time with my kids in the latter half of this week. My dad, who watches the kids on Wednesdays and then Friday afternoons, has been sick. Poor guy — he almost never gets sick (well, he used to never get sick, until his grandkids moved to town), so he’s miserable when it actually happens. Well after the crazy, distracted-with-work start to my week, I was okay with having some extra time with the wee ones. By yesterday we were in a pretty good groove, and the kids played together like the best of friends for long stretches of time while I dusted and swept and cleaned the bathroom and even set out a few wintry decorations. I felt more productive in terms of housework than I’ve felt in a very long time.
And then today happened.
Jeff had to work most of the day, which was a tough realization for me. By late afternoon, the house was cluttered with toys and papers and crayons, and I was so weary of picking up after my children. Charlie wanted my constant attention, but I desperately wanted to be left alone. And every time I entered the living room, I felt a heavy weight of fatigue at the mere thought of cleaning up the mess.
They say this season — these years of having preschool children at home — flies by. They say we should treasure it and embrace the chaos and let them make messes because that’s how they learn and they’re only little once! But this afternoon (and on more other days than I care to admit), this season of this particular breed of chaos felt like an eternity. I just wanted my living space to stay tidy for more than ten minutes. Even ten seconds. And the fact that my kids didn’t have the same aspirations — that their very mess-producing presence was in direct opposition to my aspirations — weighed. me. down.
Once the kids were in bed, I collapsed on the couch. Jeff was there reading his Bible, and I thought, “I need to pray.” But as I looked around me at the mess that had dampened my attitude for much of the afternoon and evening, all I could utter was, “Lord, I’m so weary.” And so prideful, too, as it turns out. I wanted to whine in my prayer, “It’s my home, and I want it to be free of all this crap that’s all over the floor, all the time!”
While I don’t think these are invalid complaints, I was reminded in the back little corner of my heart that this home, our home, is a gift from God. And it’s a gift to be lived in, a place to raise my children and teach them to love Jesus, a place where they have the freedom to be themselves and to learn and grow and explore and be kids!
And if they learned anything today — anything at all about loving one another, or about how the world works, or about seeking God — well then, I suppose the mess was worth it.